Broadway Sandwich: “My Fair Lady” and “The Lion King”
Follow Broadway's biggest stars during their breaks between matinee and evening performances. Go backstage and see the amazing hats from “My Fair Lady” with Rebecca Eichenberger. Learn Simba’s signature lion moves with Bradley Gibson from “The Lion King.”
Rebecca Eichenberger, fellow Broadway star,
and our guest on the next episode
of "Broadway Sandwich." -What? What?
-Boom. -I was stalking you.
You know, I figured out where you were going to be.
What do I do between shows?
I have fateful encounters with other Broadway stars.
Get food poisoning from halal trucks.
-Oh, is that what you get? -Let's get some.
Scribner: The lives of Broadway performers are busy.
They only have a few short hours
between their matinee and evening performances,
and they're giving us an inside look,
from grabbing a bite to unwinding,
plus a backstage tour.
Have you ever wanted to see what we do in the time
sandwiched between performances?
Follow along and find out.
This is "Broadway Sandwich."
Today we're at the Vivian Beaumont Theater,
part of Lincoln Center Theater,
where the award-winning revival of "My Fair Lady"
has been playing for over a year now.
[ "I Could Have Danced All Night" plays ]
It's the only Broadway-classified theater
that's technically not in the Theater District.
It's about 15 blocks north at Lincoln Center,
which is also the home to the Metropolitan Opera House,
New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet,
and the Julliard School.
The original Broadway production of "My Fair Lady"
opened in 1956,
starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews.
Since then, there have been countless global productions
and four Broadway revivals.
Of course, the best known version of the show
is probably the Audrey Hepburn film.
Today, we're hanging out with Broadway vet,
and my friend, Rebecca Eichenberger.
Rebecca made her debut on Broadway
in 1990 in "Phantom of the Opera,"
which is also where she's met her husband.
Since then, she's appeared in eight Broadway shows,
including three stints back at "Phantom of the Opera."
I first met Rebecca doing "An American in Paris"
with her on Broadway a few years back.
She is a pro.
Ah, there you are!
-Rebecca. -Hi, Garen. How are you?
-How's your show? -Great.
-So matinee is over. -Matinee is over.
How much time do we have before the evening show?
Well, we have a long show, so it's probably about 2 1/2 hours.
Okay. What's the plan today?
-Let's go eat at Indie. -Perfect. Right here.
It's a great restaurant right here, yeah.
-Love that place. -Then maybe we'll do
a little shopping. -Sounds good. Let's go.
-Why not? Let's do it. -All right.
-Yeah. -Why don't we sit here?
We need to talk about wisdom that you have learned
over these years of being in all these shows
and surviving this business.
-Wisdom, really? -Yeah.
-That's so funny. -I know you have it.
You got to show up, you got to do your job,
but you have to understand that careers
do not necessarily...
-Yeah. -...go like that.
You know, they do this.
-Not linear. -You have to be able to float.
Not linear. You have to be able to float.
How did you make it this far in the business
and this long in the business without losing your mind?
Like, you seem so balanced.
You seem like you've maintained a normal life outside of this.
Yes. Well, I have.
-How'd you do that? -Well, I...
There's balance, and my family balances out my career.
Because if you make your career the whole thing,
you're bound to be disappointed because --
Yeah, you're setting yourself up for a pretty rocky road.
"The show doesn't love you back,"
as my friend Charlotte says, you know?
Your amazing husband is also in the business,
who I also know. Such a cutie.
You met him at "Phantom of the Opera."
Yes. I met him at "Phantom of the Opera,"
but he's not an actor. He was the original boat driver.
Did you think twice about becoming a performer
because that's hard to do? No.
I didn't think about becoming a performer.
That's just what I knew.
That's just what I did, and that's...
I never thought about it.
I just -- That's what I did.
I always knew I wanted to have children,
and I always knew that that was a priority.
Do you feel like your career could have been different
if you didn't have kids?
Maybe. I mean, you never know.
Probably, I would have been freer to make different choices.
It doesn't even make sense to think about it
because I would never trade my children.
Okay, so what year were we in Paris?
I bought these sunglasses in Paris,
and I think it's high time for some new ones.
Yeah, well, if they had been mine,
they would have lasted about 2 weeks.
I know. I'm surprised I still have them.
You've very much earned a new pair.
-It's time for new glasses. -So should we go get a pair?
-Yeah. Let's go. -Let's do it.
All right. So we're right outside your theater.
Yes, we are. Lincoln Center.
We had a good meal, and now we're going to go shopping for sunnies.
Well, because why not? It's so sunny!
And I figure this i the perfect time
to talk about your career highlights.
-My career highlights. -You've done a lot of shows.
I have done a lot of shows.
-Let's hear about some of those. -Oh, my goodness.
Well, I started as a kid, doing dinner theater
when I was about 10 or 12.
And then I got my Equity card and did summer stock.
Then I moved to New York with a Broadway show,
with "Phantom of the Opera."
How old were you?
I was pretty -- 28. So I was -- It was late.
You know, some people say, after you do a lead in a show,
it's like you have to make a choice, you know,
you're going to only go in for leads,
or are you going to go back to the ensemble?
How people see you is important.
So how have you been able to manage that?
Well, I want to still work on Broadway,
so I'm realistic, you know?
I want to work. I want to do what I do.
It's keeping me young.
It's keep me fit, working, and happy.
Are there any shows, any types of shows,
that you haven't done yet
that you really feel like you want to do?
-Well, in terms of theater... -Yeah.
...I would just like to do a show
that I could wear my jeans in.
-Like something contemporary? -Just something contemporary
because I do nothing but period pieces,
and I'm always in corsets and turbans.
More turbans than you can shake a stick at.
We like it up here. It's called Broadway [Speaks French].
Broadway [Speaks French]?
It's, like, you know, the restaurants are way better.
You don't have quite the street traffic.
Yeah, well, because this is literally, like,
20 blocks north of most of the Broadway theaters.
Yeah. Lincoln Center is where it's at.
I love it. Do you like an oversized?
I don't know, because I have a small face.
I do, too. I have a narrow face.
Yes, a narrow face. You have to be careful.
Like, they can't be too big and crazy.
So something in between.
Okay. So I love these.
-I like these. -I'm going to think on these.
All right. I'm going to think on these, too.
You actually have a second show...
Yeah, that I can't wear sunglasses in.
...so we have to get you back to the theater. So we got to go!
Do you want to think about these a little before you come back?
Well, luckily, you're right nearby,
and you can choose and come.
They look like the ones I already have.
Isn't it amazing how we just end up
picking the same things over and over again?
And making the same mistakes. But that's about me.
All right, Rebecca Eichenberger.
It's my favorite part of the show.
It's our SSS, "Sixty-Second Sandwich."
Okay! You got 60 seconds on the clock.
Oh, God. I'm nervous.
Answer as many questions as you can in the time allotted.
-Are you ready? -I'm ready.
Okay, time...now! One minute.
Facebook user Sandra Berry Irwin asks,
"What iconic Broadway performance has inspired you?"
Tyne Daly in "Gypsy" when she slapped the floor!
Dennis Schroder asks, "Have you ever gotten advice
that seemed strange or antithetical
to what you know but actually worked?"
Number three -- best advice you'd give to young people
trying to make it in the biz?
It's called technique! Get some!
Have you ever had a normie job, a normal person job?
Yes, I was a singing waitress.
At Miceli's in Studio City, California, West Hollywood.
Liz RC on Insta asks,
"Do you actually need an agent for Broadway?"
-Uh, yeah! -24 seconds.
Go-to karaoke song?
♪ And I...
Got it! Joseph Maletti on YouTube asks,
"Fave thing to do when not performing?"
Favorite thing to do when not performing?
-Traveling! -Top tips for vocal health?
Don't take anything that dries you out, sleep, water.
Dream role you haven't played yet?
Anyone in the biz
you haven't worked with that you're dying to?
Yes, Patti LuPone!
Patti LuPone! You did it! You nailed it!
That was 10. All right.
That's pretty good.
Now we have to get you back to the theater.
-Yes, I have to go. -Let's go. Let's go!
Oh! We're going this way.
A little bit more space than the Broadway theaters.
So I have a picture of my son coming down
this hallway when I did "Carousel,"
and he was just a baby, just a year old.
-Little baby Isaac. -Little baby Isaac.
And then I got him again coming down this hallway
when he was 26.
That's so special.
I know. It really is.
I felt like it was full circle kind of.
This is like coming home.
-Yeah. Yeah. -Yeah. Love that.
Your kids wrote to me when I asked them
about memories from you.
"She's the greatest role model I could ever ask for,
and the older I grow, the more I realize
what a badass woman she is,
how she manages to juggle raising a family,
continuing a successful career
and maintaining close friendships.
She is a superwoman."
That was Olivia.
-That is so amazing. -How does that feel?
In the theater where you used to bring them when they were kids?
I know! It really is.
It's a full circle moment, you know?
I got pregnant with Olivia when I was doing "Carousel,"
and, you know, all the guilt that goes into parenthood
and being away so much, it's good to know
that I did not scar them for life.
No, you made their life richer.
Now we're starting to get into all of...
...the gorgeousness that is "My Fair Lady."
Boots. Show shoes.
This is my hat that I wear as Lady Boxington.
Look at that.
This way is my dressing room, which is...
-And these are my costumes. -Hello, costumes.
Aren't they beautiful?
Now, what's your history with "My Fair Lady"?
I've never done "My Fair Lady" before.
This is your first time doing it?
First time doing "My Fair Lady."
Had you always wanted to?
Um...yeah. [ Laughs ]
[ Laughs ] Yeah.
I've never really thought about it, you know?
It just -- It was the show that came up.
It's a beautiful show,
and I particularly love our production of it.
This is a beautiful dressing room.
Isn't it lovely?
You've got good space in here, man.
-I know. I know. -A place to snooze.
A place to snooze. Nap time is primo.
This is my beautiful
ascot costume that goes with that beautiful hat.
-Oh, yeah. -This is Lady Boxington.
And there's so much detail in these costumes.
It's really quite extraordinary.
It's so fun. You get to turn into somebody else every day.
Oh, yeah. Can't be that.
Michael Grandage gave us this wonderful kind of quote
from when we were opening "Evita," and he said,
"I want to tell you, there were two people
in the audience right next to each other,
and one is having their life changed by your performance,
and the other is losing his will to live,
and he will be the louder."
So there's always going to be critics.
There's always going to be people who hate what you do,
but that one person is being transformed
by what you're doing, and that's very gratifying.
You said earlier that
the shows don't necessarily love you back.
What did you mean?
Well, not like your family does.
But, you know, they do become your family, as well.
But the actual business of being in a show, it's a business.
-All right. -Okay.
-We'll see. -Okay.
This is just going to be a quick tuck.
Give us the tutorial.
All right. Well, you know --
What are the secrets?
You've been doing this a long time.
Well, you have to have your hair done before you start.
Right. So you do pin curls...
Like, at the beginning of the show, for your wig prep,
you do pin curls? -Yes.
And then they stick the mic on top.
Correct. The mic lives in there,
but then you have time to take the mic out before...
Because this a long show,
and we have a lot of time before we do that.
Now, mind you, I have on this. It's like dress up.
-Yeah. -It truly is.
You get to dress up eight times a week.
It truly is.
Put on the coat. You're ready to go.
The full look.
-The full look. -It's very Capulet.
So here I am, yet again in another turban.
-I love it. -It seems to be my lot in life.
-I could stay here all night. -Nope, sorry, you got to go.
-Are you sure? -Yep. Time for the show.
-I really like it here. -No!
-Okay! -I love you.
See you. I love you.
Have a great show. I'll see you next time.
Thank you. You will!
Ah. You look divine!
-It's called [indistinct], okay. -So you're going to --
It's here, here, here.
Yours was prettier than mine.
Yes, yes, yes. We should do a trade.
-Thank you. -We should do a trade.
Thank you. -[ Laughs ]
So I'm going to [indistinct] out of here.
Today we're at the Minskoff Theatre,
home of one of the biggest Broadway shows of all time.
They're about to finish up their matinee.
That show, of course, "The Lion King."
To give you an idea of how massive this show is,
there are 25 global productions around the world, 232 puppets,
which took 37,000 hours to make along with the masks,
and six different indigenous African languages
spoken in the show.
Today we get to meet up with Bradley Gibson,
who plays none other than Simba himself.
Bradley joined the cast about a year ago
after starring in "A Bronx Tale,"
plus a stint on the national tour of "Chicago"
and his Broadway debut in "Rocky."
How was you show?
Good, you know, two-show day, great.
Matinee went well?
Yeah. Good, cool.
So we only have a few short hours
before we have to get you right back to the theater
to do your second show.
So what's the plan now?
Let's get a little P.S. Kitchen. Okay.
Then we'll get a manicure, a little self care. Oh, that sounds good
because I need help with these cuticles. Oh, they'll fix that.
Let's do it, and then maybe a theatre tour after?
Absolutely. Let's go.
Let's go. Perfect.
Gibson: Cheers. It's so nice to get to know you and spend time together.
It's nice to meet you. Talk about the difference between doing new work
and doing something that is an institution.
"Lion King" has been going for almost 22 years now.
You're jumping on a moving train that is moving at full speed,
and it's not going to stop for anybody.
You know? You got to jump on.
Yeah. Thank you.
Oh, this is beautiful.
Look at that. -There you go.
And you saw "The Lion King" as a kid?
Yeah. Everybody knows, I mean,
everybody knows "The Lion King." Yeah.
Does that put a lot of pressure on you?
How has that changed, like, doing that musical?
Yes, just because I love the movie so much. Mm-hmm.
It was the first movie I ever saw in the movie theater.
Really? As a kid, with my mom, yeah.
I remember sitting there and loving it,
and so I, you know, I had a "Lion King" comforter
and a "Lion King" birthday party.
So, yeah, it's terrifying every day, but so exciting.
[ Laughter ]
And how do relate to Simba's journey?
It's really a story about healing.
Right. How do I move past this pain?
How do I face it head on,
talk about it, feel it, breathe into it,
but then let it go and use that to a better good, you know?
Mmm. I think that's really
what I connect with most in the show.
Okay, so it's spa day. It's spa time.
I need to get my nails done, right?
Yes. Because it's crusty.
These cuticles are janky.
Yeah. Ready to roll? Let's do it.
Whoo! Let's do it!
It's a cute spring day for our self care day.
Let's go this way. Okay.
So what kinds of things have you learned about yourself
with each show that you've done and about the business?
Yeah, "Bronx Tale" taught me about the community
and about how, you know, you really make friends
that feel like family, that are, you know,
everyone is lifting each other up.
So what have you learned from "The Lion King"?
Oh, "The Lion King" is teaching me
how to survive an eight-show week
and how to have a life.
Outside of the show? Outside of the show.
Yeah, and a big feature of that is, of course,
keeping our nails right, which we're about to do.
Can't wait. Oh, my gosh, yes. Taking care of yourself, yes.
-It's called [indistinct], okay. -So you're going to --
All right, so we also have to make sure our nails are nice
because that ring on your fourth finger...
This ring, yeah. ...needs to be highly featured.
Yeah. Tell me about that.
Yeah, I got engaged in February.
So it's a new... Congratulations.
...a new addition to my hand.
And tell me about him.
He is also a performer. Yeah?
He was just in "Once On This Island" on Broadway.
His name is Adam, and he is the best.
I knew really early on when we met
that this was the person that I wanted to spend my life with.
What other kind of stuff do you get into between shows to relax?
You know, sometimes I like to go home.
I think it's nice to kind of go home
and have that quiet of your own space.
Totally, and then what do you do
after your second show of the day?
I finish a show, you know,
literally climbing Pride Rock and, like, bowing to the kingdom
and hearing the roar of the crowd,
so coming down from that is sometimes hard.
So I try to just kind of get quiet.
Oh, I could stay here all day.
I am going to stay here all day.
[ Laughter ]
But we got to do a show. I got to do another show.
Yeah, you have to get back to the theatre. It's time to go.
Okay, Bradley, this is a really fun part of the show.
It's our "60 Second Sandwich."
60 seconds on the clock, you got to answer
as many questions as you can in that time.
Are you ready? Okay, let's do it.
Here we go. Clock is on.
Facebook's Leah Passione wants to know
other Disney roles you'd want to tackle? Hercules.
Instagram's Britt Ville wants to know about others
in "The Lion King." Scar.
Ever dress up as a Disney character as a kid?
Yes, Mickey Mouse.
Instagram's Marissa K. Connelly -- "Favorite song
to perform from 'A Bronx Tale'?" "Hurt Someone."
Favorite song from "The Lion King"?
"Endless Night." Amazing, 42 seconds.
Same use -- "Favorite memory from 'A Bronx Tale'?"
The family I created. Aw.
"Do you take your makeup off between every show?"
Sometimes. Sometimes I do. Okay.
Finley Mullin on Instagram wants to know
how long the makeup takes before each show?
About 20 minutes.
Favorite post-show treat?
R. Brian Lee on Instagram wants to know,
"How much does the headwear in the show weigh,
and are their any special measures to avoid injury?"
It's about 5 pounds, got to do a lot of neck
stretching to keep myself together. Love it, 15 seconds.
"Best advice ever received?"
Don't take yourself too seriously.
Calum Fisher on Instagram wants to know,
"What's the funniest mishap ever onstage?"
Oh, my mic fell out of my mask onstage, awful.
Five seconds, last question.
Linds R.C. on Instagram --
"How does being so young on Broadway feel?" Crazy, amazing.
"Crazy amazing," that's it, 11! Nailed it! Yeah!
We did it. Perfect, now we've got to get you back to your show.
Let's do it. Let's go.
We're back. Here we are, home sweet home.
-It's called [indistinct], okay. -So you're going to --
Uh-oh. What happened?
I'm locked out. Are you still on the payroll?
I'm still here, I think.
We're in. All right.
Now this feels like a Disney elevator.
Wardrobe, hair and makeup, puppet department.
Yeah. Because you have 232 puppets, which I learned.
Yep. That is insane.
Here we are. Oh, this is stage level?
Stage right. On stage right.
Yep. And you've got all the stuff flown up.
Yeah, elephant graveyard.
The cheetah. Yeah, the cheetah is up there.
Okay, the cheetah is my favorite part.
It's the best part. One of my favorite parts of the show.
She is so incredible, how she moves that thing.
It's so graceful. And I see Zazu right here.
Yeah, Zazu is right here, the puppet.
Even coordinating turquoise pillows to go
with the colors of the bird -- perfect.
Everything is right here at "The Lion King." I love that.
This is the men's bunker. Oh, wow!
You know, the hyenas are here.
You know, it really is like a magical African fort.
Yeah, right? Whoa, these are so special.
This is the coolest part to me. The lionesses.
This really kind of shows what the costumes do for the show.
Julie Taymor did a pretty good job, right?
Julie Taymor, Elton John, Tim Rice, not bad.
Not a bad group. Not bad at all.
Completely nervous 'cause I feel like I'm going to go onstage.
Okay, so you come out this wing?
Right out this wing. And you -- geez.
Quite an entrance. I land center stage,
and I start the show, yeah.
Oh, man, I love this theatre.
It's pretty big, right? It's gorgeous.
You know, I always forget how wide it is, how vast. Yeah.
Is there anything else that you find special about being up here
or anything you think about when you're onstage?
Yeah, I think when I first saw the show.
When I first saw the show in high school,
I sat in the center row of the mezzanine,
and I was taken by such a surprise,
to see so many people onstage that looked like me.
It reinforced my dreams.
It made me feel like there was a place for me here.
You know, being from North Carolina,
from a little small town, I always kind of felt like,
"How could I get to New York?
How can my dreams become a reality?"
Yeah. But then I saw this show.
I'd never seen a show with a black cast on Broadway
or on tour, community theater, anything like that before.
So this was my first experience
seeing a full stage of people dancing and singing
and acting that looked like me, and that did so much for me.
I remember I got back home to North Carolina,
and I kind of was on a mission then to really,
really understand how to become a professional
and how to do it and how to get here,
and it's crazy to think that 14 years later,
I'm in the same show.
So you come out, and there's this incredible parade
of animals for that "Circle of Life" moment,
and I was, like, really overcome with something.
Yeah. Watching it, I was surprised, myself,
at how emotional I got with that moment
because you're immediately transported.
Powerful. It's very powerful because you are always affecting
someone else out there in the audience.
It is -- It's their first time.
So how do I make that
an exciting moment for their first time?
How do I make them feel something for the first time,
and how do I kind of get over myself?
You know? Yeah.
Because I remember being that high school boy
from North Carolina, in the first row of the balcony,
Yeah, pretty crazy. I love that.
Now, when I was watching the show also,
I couldn't help but think, I mean, so much of the show
is about who comes before us, the people before us.
I can't help but think about my parents,
particularly the moment when -- We've all seen the movie --
what happens to Mufasa, Simba's father.
Mufasa lies dead on the center of the stage,
and little Simba is like, "Come on, Dad, wake up."
Yeah, yeah. "Come on, what are you doing?"
Yeah. He doesn't understand, you know, his father is gone.
-It's called [indistinct], okay. -So you're going to --
It's so beautiful to see that tragedy can be overcome,
and that those people who we lose along the way
always stick with us.
Mm-hmm. You know? Sorry.
[ Chuckles ] Yeah, I know.
One of my favorite quotes in the world is,
"I come as one, but I stand as 10,000,"
and I think about that so much in everything that I do,
but I think about that so much in this show
because of my history with the show and history with my family.
I wouldn't be here without my family,
but that's why it's beautiful, too.
The show is so much about healing.
Right. Simba is healed throughout the show.
So therefore, I think audiences heal, too. Yeah.
When he climbs Pride Rock at the end of the show,
there's no way that you can't kind of feel,
you know, healed and empowered.
It's about animals,
but it's the most human story in the world, I think.
I think so, too. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And I think it'll be here forever.
A 30-something-year-old man, and I'm crying at Disney. [ Laughs ]
I know, it does that. Early 30s, very early 30s.
Early, right. Anyway, I want to see your dressing room before I go.
I have to see it. Let's go see it.
All right. Which way? Is it stage left? This way.
Oh, here we go. This is you?
This is my dressing room.
Okay, excuse me, this is a very nice dressing room.
It's really nice, right? I've seen a lot of them now.
Yeah, it's pretty nice.
Yeah, I share this with Steven Taylor,
who plays Mufasa, so father and son.
With Dad, I love that. Me and Dad in here.
Are there any preshow rituals that you can tell us
about before you go out there?
Yeah, preshow, I always have to steam.
Okay, for the juicy... Cords are juicy...
...cord effect. ...ready...
Right. ...ready to sing, you know.
How long do you do that for? Maybe like 10, 15 minutes.
Okay. All right. Just sit there, let is all get juicy.
And that's before the vocal warm-up?
Yeah, before the vocal warm-up, before the makeup.
Drink some water.
Okay. I've got some coconut water.
You've got the coconut water. And I'll steam.
See, I just think that tastes like sweat to me, coconut water.
But you're so grateful for it when you're onstage, I think.
True. Because I get out onstage,
and I'm there without any sort of break when I start.
Yeah, yeah. So if it gets dry, it's awful.
Yeah, you're done. You're cooked. All right.
Well, I think you have to do a second show.
I got to do a second show.
What if I just put the Simba costume on and went out there?
You think they would be cool with that? Can I go home while you do it?
Yeah, trade. Here, tag in.
I don't think they're going to like that very much.
Man, all right, well, thank you
for spending time with us between.
It's been so cool to see how you live your life between,
and you are wonderful, and thank you.
Oh, thank you. Yeah.
Bye, Bradley. Bye.
Have a great show. Thank you.
See you. I'll see you soon.
-It's called [indistinct], okay. -So you're going to --
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- TheaterFans start campaign to save “Beetlejuice” amid Broadway hit’s looming evictionDecember 10, 2019
- “My Fair Lady” actor Rebecca Eichenberger shares showbiz wisdom in “Broadway Sandwich”September 25, 2019